Please visit our sponsor!










Bookmark and Share
In This Edition

William Pfaff concludes, "It's Too Late, Mr. Kerry."

Uri Avnery sees, "Sisyphus Redeemed."

Glen Ford says, "U.S. Funds "Terror Studies" To Dissect And Neutralize Social Movements."

David Suzuki warns, "Pipeline Approval Flies In The Face Of Democracy And Global Warming."

Jim Hightower explores, "The Militarization Of 'Officer Friendly.'"

David Swanson observes, "The Democratic Push To Bomb Iraq Again."

James Donahue wonders, "Where Are The Bookworms?"

John Nichols tells, "Why Scott Walker Will Never Be President."

Chris Hedges examines, "The Ghoulish Face Of Empire."

David Sirota announces, "Cybercriminals Reportedly Hack Unnamed Hedge Fund."

Paul Krugman takes, "The Big Green Test."

Ryan Gallagher explains, "How Secret Partners Expand NSA's Surveillance Dragnet."

Brittney Cooper teaches, "How To Encounter A Black Woman's Body: The Politics of Mammy Sphinx."

Michael Kinsley wins this week's coveted, "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Robert Reich finds, "Real Business Leaders Want To Save Capitalism."

Frank Scott returns with, "The Warfare State Of Capital."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Resigning House Leader Cantor Reflects On All The Accomplishments He Thwarted" but first Uncle Ernie comes to grips with, "The Advisers Syndrome."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Mike Lester, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Brian McFadden, Patrick Chappatte, Tom Tomorrow, Kara Walker, Andy Manis, Luke Sharrett, Lefteris Pitarakis, Matthew, The New York Times, Flickr, The Onion, AP, US State Department, The Intercept, Black Agenda Report, You Tube.Com and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

The Quotable Quote...
The Vidkun Quisling Award...
The Cartoon Corner...
To End On A Happy Note...
Have You Seen This...
Parting Shots...

Welcome one and all to "Uncle Ernie's Issues & Alibis."













Bookmark and Share


The Advisers' Syndrome
By Ernest Stewart

"Now, it's not the place for the United States to choose Iraq's leaders. It is clear, though, that only leaders that can govern with an inclusive agenda are going to be able to truly bring the Iraqi people together and help them through this crisis. The test is before him (Nouri al-Maliki) and other Iraqi leaders as we speak. Regardless of what's happened in the past, right now is a moment where the fate of Iraq hangs in the balance." ~~~ Barack Obama

"The Social Security trust fund is in pretty good shape today and we should not embark upon risky, dangerous schemes which will, in fact, undermine Social Security, such as privatization." ~~~ Max Baucus

"And what was so outrageous? Well, for starters, Greenwald says, the "to the extent" formulation could be used to justify any baseless insinuation, like "To the extent that Mr. Gregory has murdered his neighbors..." But Greenwald does not deny that he has "aided and abetted Snowden." So, this particular question was not baseless. Furthermore, it was a question, not an assertion - a perfectly reasonable question that many people were asking; and Gregory was giving Greenwald a chance to answer it: If the leaker can go to prison, why should the leakee be exempt? But Greenwald seems to feel he is beyond having to defend himself. Even asking the question, he said, amounts to "an extraordinary assertion" that "journalists could and should be prosecuted for doing journalism." ~~~ Michael Kinsley

"I got a bad feeling about this." ~~~ Han Solo


I've heard Barry's about to send 300 green beret "advisers" into Iraq. These "advisers" won't be fighting; they are not ground troops and won't be engaging in battle; they are there just to advise! Where, oh where, have I heard this before? Oh yeah, a little place called Vietnam; and we all remember how well sending in "advisers" worked out for us that time around, huh?

US Secretary of State John Kerry was running around the Middle East, telling every group of Nazis from Baghdad to Cairo they have our full support! Funny how we always back far right-wing Juntas, and never the people. Trouble is, to our right-wing friends, we have no compunction of betraying them at a drop of a hat if it furthers our corpo-rat masters' goals. Ask Saddam how that worked out for him -- one minute our best bud, with Rumsfeld glad-handing him -- and the next minute dangling from a rope -- via our new best bud, Nouri al-Maliki -- with John giving Nouri the same assurances that Rumsfeld gave Saddam -- and the same assurances we'll give Abu Bakr al Baghdadi when he takes over!

John made a stop in Cairo and pledged our undying support to the military Junta that overthrew the democratically-elected government and put the head of the army Abdel Fattah al-Sis in power. In a show of support for this blood-soaked military regime in Egypt, Kerry visited Cairo on Sunday. He met with his counterpart, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, and Egyptian President, oops, my bad, Egyptian Dictator Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Kerry announced that the US has released $575 million in military aid that had been frozen since the military coup that overthrew Islamist President Mohamed Mursi last July. Your tax dollars at work, America! Then John announced, as an immediate measure, the US will supply the Egyptian army with ten Apache attack helicopters. "The Apaches will come and they will come very, very soon," Kerry said at a joint press conference with Shoukry.

As soon as Kerry's plane lifted off, Egypt's judiciary announced the destruction of free speech after three journalists for Al-Jazeera English were sentenced to between seven and ten years in jail on charges of aiding terrorists and endangering national security.

The former BBC correspondent Peter Greste, from Australia, the ex-CNN journalist Mohamed Fahmy, and local producer Baher Mohamed were jailed for seven and 10 years respectively. Four students and activists indicted in the case were sentenced to seven years.

The judge also handed 10-year sentences to the British journalists Sue Turton and Dominic Kane and the Dutch journalist Rena Netjes, who were not in Egypt but were tried in absentia. I wonder if they'll turn themselves in -- or if their respective countries will turn them in? Can anyone remember a time when US foreign policy didn't suck? I'll be damned if I can!

In Other News

I see where Social Security is making secret plans to close offices and outsource some or all of its work to private for-profit groups. Looks like our 1% masters are about get their hands on all that lovely money of ours and throw us to the wolves. Ask me if I'm the least bit surprised by this! Funny thing you should ask; no, I am not!

According to a little-known report, commissioned by the SSA, at the request of Congress called "National Academy of Public Administration Long Term Strategic Vision. Vision Elements for the Social Security Administration" outlines their plans for our futures. The summary document outlining the plan, which is labeled "for internal use only," is unavailable from the SSA but can be found here.

One should be prepared to read between the lines; this is as fine an example of double-speak as George Orwell ever wrote. I'm sure George would be both proud and frightened by it; and beware of the euphemisms as you can't walk for them. This will in the end give Boner and the boys everything they could ask for in the dismantling of Social Security -- only in a stealth mode! That's one thing to remember about the 1%, they never give up until they get more than what they want; and then until they figure out what's left to steal.

Don't expect Barry or the Social Security Administration to step up and save us; they've been going along lock-step with whatever the 1% demands. When they're bought and paid for, they stay bought and paid for. So, you can look forward to most all of their offices closing and drastic cuts in staff -- just when they should be hiring more! Reciprocates are about to almost double!! Forcing everyone to deal with them online when only around half of the elderly are computer savvy; when the ObamaCare sites are light-years ahead when compared to Social Security's disaster; and then having you deal with private corporations who couldn't care less. Sounds like paradise to me... NOT!

And Finally

This week's Vidkun Quisling Award was a real toss up between a couple of Senators, a Congressman, and Michael Kinsley, communist, oops, my bad, columnist for the old grey bitch! Which explains my problems with the old grey bitch -- who'll publish any lie from the far right and stand behind it by hemming and hawing about freedom of the press even when the column comes out squarely against freedom of the press, as did Michael's! In case you're not hip, Michael is a couple of light-years to the right of Darth Vader!

Michael jacked his jaws this week attacking Glenn Greenwald for publishing some of Snowden's leaks. Kinsley doesn't believe that journalists should be free to publish things the government dubs "secret," even though reporting on hidden and unlawful or unethical government activities is what good reporters do. "The question is who decides," he writes. "It seems clear, at least to me, that the private companies that own newspapers, and their employees, should not have the final say over the release of government secrets, and a free pass to make them public with no legal consequences."

You may recall the words of the first amendment in the Bill of Rights:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
Unlike Mr. Kinsley, the Founding Fathers knew that a free press able to report the atrocities of government was essential to keeping our leaders in check, and keep them from establishing a king like the last five Presidents have tried to do. Methinks the words of Supreme Court justice Hugo Black wraps it up nicely:
"In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government's power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. To find that the President has 'inherent power' to halt the publication of news ... would wipe out the First Amendment and destroy the fundamental liberty and security of the very people the Government hopes to make 'secure.'"
Therefore, Michael Kinsley wins this week's Vidkun Quisling Award!

Keepin' On

Just like Han "I've got a bad feeling about this!" Last week, we got some righteous donations which brought us up to date, and gave us a head start on the next group of bills; but since then, nary a Ducat in the bucket. This does not bode well for the magazine.

In four weeks time, we need to raise a little over $1200, or lose about half of our authors and several of our sources. Sure, we can go on without them; but their loss would be staggering. As is, the magazine is just a shadow of its former self; but that's the cost of telling it like it is. When Bush was committing war crimes and the like, we got all the money we needed and hurrahs for our efforts. When we pointed out the same crimes that Barry was committing, we lost half our readership, practically overnight! I wasn't surprised by this; it goes with the territory of being a soothsayer; most folks don't want to hear the truth; in fact, most folks get downright angry if you persist in breaking their little bubbles; but c'est la guerre!

However, if knowing what is actually going down, versus listening to some overpaid spokes-weasel tell you happy lies, is important to you, and you're currently employed, how about lending a helping hand on paying some of these bills!??! Take a night off from the nudie bar and send us all those dollar bills you were going to give to Crystal and Bambi. Send them to us instead; and we'll put them to work for you and yours!

*****


05-25-1932 ~ 06-22-2014
Thanks for the laughs!



12-07-1915 ~ 06-24-2014
Thanks for the film!




*****

We get by with a little help from our friends!
So please help us if you can...?
Donations

*****

So how do you like Bush Lite so far?
And more importantly, what are you planning on doing about it?

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2014 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 13 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. Visit the Magazine's page on Facebook and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.




U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry steps off the helicopter that flew him to the U.S. Embassy
in Baghdad for meetings with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other top national leaders.



It's Too Late, Mr. Kerry
By William Pfaff

Secretary of State John Kerry thinks Iraq can be saved with a new prime minister to take the place of Nouri al-Maliki. The new one would make friends with the alienated and hostile Sunni citizens that make up some 40 percent of the country's population, who in the past dictatorially ruled it, and were forced out of power and precedence by the ascendant Shia majority. They can be convinced to forget all that, Mr. Kerry presumes-those who are not already members of the ISIS army.

One must tell Mr. Kerry that it's too late. (He's the man who told us that he was going to fix up a two-state agreement between Israel and the Palestinians by next month.) Many other people in Washington have told the press about their equally unrealizable schemes for saving Iraq today: a new leadership, national reconciliation, appointment of Shia, Druze and Turkman officials, a new parliament, a new and well-trained army, a national campaign drafted by the best American public relations agencies to convince Iraqis to love one another and look at their future with optimism. Or they want another American invasion.

The exhortations in Washington that Barack Obama "do something" about the crises in the Middle East rest on the illusion that the United States already possesses the powers to which the Pentagon has aspired in its program to create a global system of regional commands that already cover Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and Central Asia, the Pacific, and now finishing off with "Africa Command"-all with the means to deploy American strategic ascendancy in every corner of the world.

Ready to be deployed to do what? Rescue the schoolgirls being kidnapped in Nigeria? Stamp out jihadism? Build a modern state for the separatist Tuareg people of the Sahara? Recover the flood of modern weapons looted from Libya by tribal and jihadist groups after the U.S. joined France, Britain and Qatar in liberating Libya from Colonel Muammar Gaddafi? That was at the behest of the French "philosopher" and self-publicist Bernard Henri Levy, who convinced his pal Nicolas Sarkozy that the people of Benghazi were at risk of a "holocaust" in 2011 if France did not get NATO to save them. Americans are not the only people who formulate their foreign policy on what fools and fantasists think.

The U.S. Marines and the army's Green Beret advisors are now deploying in Iraq to protect the anxious American officials, consultants, and mercenaries still in Baghdad's Green Zone, and to counsel Iraq's army-such of it as can be rounded up and sent back to the battle against the ISIS irregulars now controlling large parts of Iraq and Syria.

What are these American military advisers supposed to do? Iraq's army has been disbanded, recreated, retrained, and rehearsed since soon after the American invasion of the country more than a decade ago (bringing Iraq, as George W. Bush explained before he retired, freedom and democracy). Officially, there are a quarter-million U.S.-trained ready troops today in the Iraqi army, and a half-million trained active reservists.

If this army cannot be convinced to defend its own country and religion, so as to block an invasion composed of an estimated seven to ten thousand highly-motivated volunteers making up the Sunni insurgency, there is nothing to be done. This is like Vietnam yesterday, and like Afghanistan tomorrow. If there is no real nation there-a vigorous and alive nation, or other civilization center-to which the majority of the population gives allegiance and loyalty-a highly-motivated insurgent movement is unlikely to be defeated, even at these odds.

Dick Cheney told Americans that the Iraqis would greet our troops as liberators, once we invaded their country. Where's that liberation spirit?! Barack Obama could make one of his speeches to the Iraqis boosting the liberation spirit.

But that won't work either. The Middle East now has been torn apart by American invasions and attacks, and careless ideas about how to remake other peoples' lives according to our own ideas about how they should live and behave and believe. It's been like the Huns passing through: millions are dead, cities in ruins, the Muslims at war with one another. Iraq and Syria, and probably Jordan, as they exist today, and possibly Lebanon, may never recover from this.

The Arabs will survive, and one day Palestine and ancient Syria and Mesopotamia will undoubtedly be reconstituted. Israel? It has existed as a modern state for little more than six decades, although it too existed in antiquity. Will modern Israel still exist at the end of this century? After all that has, and will, happen? I wonder what the answer is.
(c) 2014 Visit William Pfaff's website for more on his latest book, "The Irony of Manifest Destiny: The Tragedy of America's Foreign Policy."





Sisyphus Redeemed
By Uri Avnery

IF THERE is a God, he surely has a sense of humor. The career of Shimon Peres, who is about to finish his term as President of Israel, is clear evidence.

Here is a life-long politician, who has never won an election. Here is the world-renowned Man of Peace, who has started several wars and never done anything for peace. Here is the most popular political figure in Israel who for most of his life was hated and despised.

Once, several decades ago, I wrote an article about him with the title "Mr. Sisyphus." Sisyphus, it will be remembered, was condemned for all eternity to roll a heavy rock to the top of a hill, and each time when he was nearing his goal the stone slipped from his hands and rolled down again.

That has been the story of Peres' life - until now. God, or whoever, has obviously decided: enough is enough.

IT STARTED when he was a boy in a small Polish town. Many times he complained to his mother that the other pupils in the (Jewish) school were beating him up for no reason. His younger brother, Gigi, had to defend him.

He arrived in Palestine in 1934, a year after me, as a boy of 11 (he is five weeks older than I). His father sent him to the agricultural school in Ben Shemen, a children's village that was a Zionist indoctrination center. There the Polish Persky became the Hebrew Peres and joined the Noar Oved ("working youth") , the main youth organization of the ruling Mapai party. As was usual then, he was sent to a kibbutz.

That's where his political career started. Mapai split into two, and so did its youth movement. The young and active joined "Faction 2", the left-wing section. Peres, by now an instructor, was among the few who wisely remained with Mapai, and thus attracted the attention of the party leaders.

The reward came soon. The 1948 war broke out. Everybody in our age group hastened to join the fighting forces in what appeared to be literally a fight for life or death. Peres was sent abroad by Ben-Gurion to buy arms. An important task, no doubt, but one that could have been done by a 70-year old.

The fact that Peres did not serve in the army at this fateful juncture was not forgotten and earned him the contempt of our generation for decades.

I MET him for the first time when we were 30 - he was already the Director General of the Ministry of Defense and the darling of Ben-Gurion, I was the editor in chief of a popular opposition magazine. It was not a case of love at first sight.

In his powerful position, young Peres was a determined war-monger. During the early 50s, his ministry ordered an unending chain of "retaliation actions" whose aim was to keep the country on a war footing. Arab refugees who returned at night to their villages were killed, Jews were killed in return, and unofficial units of the army crossed the armistice lines to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to kill civilians and soldiers in turn.

When the atmosphere was ripe, Ben Gurion and Peres started the 1956 Suez war. The Algerian people rose up against their French colonial masters. Unable to admit that they were facing a genuine war of liberation, the French blamed the young Egyptian leader, Gamal Abd-al-Nasser. In collusion with another declining colonial power, Great Britain, the French conspired with Israel to attack Nasser. It ended in a mess, but Peres and Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan were celebrated in Israel as heroes, the men of the future.

The French showed their gratitude. For his services, Peres received a military atomic reactor in Dimona. Peres still boasts of being the father of Israel's nuclear armament.

HIS CAREER was clearly heading for the top. Ben-Gurion appointed him Deputy Minister, and he was destined to become Minister of Defense, the second most powerful position in Israel, when disaster struck. The querulous Old Man quarreled with his party and was thrown out. Peres followed. The rock rolled down to the bottom.

Ben-Gurion insisted on founding a new party, and dragged an unwilling Peres after him. With indefatigable energy, Peres "plowed" the country, went from village to village and from town to town, and the "Rafi" party took shape. Yet with all its array of celebrities, it won only ten Knesset seats. (The peace party I founded at the same time got a seventh of their number of votes.)

As a member of a small opposition party, Peres was vegetating. The future seemed dark, when Nasser came to the rescue. He sent his army into Sinai, war fever reached a frenzied pitch and the public decided that Ben-Gurion's successor, Levy Eshkol, must give up his position as Minister of Defense. Several names were mentioned. High on the list was Peres.

And then it happened again. Moshe Dayan snatched the prize and became the Defense Minister, victor of the 1967 war and a world-wide hero. Peres remained a gray politician, a minor minister. The rock was down again.

For six glorious years, Dayan was the captain of the Ship of Fools, until the disaster of the Yom Kippur war. He and Golda Meir were wiped from the table and the country needed a new Prime Minister. Peres was the obvious candidate. But at the very last moment, practically out of nowhere, Yitzhak Rabin appeared and walked off with the prize. Peres had to satisfy himself with the Ministry of Defense.

He didn't. For the next three years, he devoted days and nights to an unceasing effort to undermine Rabin. The fight became notorious, and Rabin invented a title which stuck to Peres for many years: "tireless intriguer."

However, the effort bore fruit. Near the end of his term, Rabin faced a scandal: it appeared that after leaving office as ambassador to the USA, he had left open a bank account in Washington DC, contrary to Israeli law. He resigned in the middle of the 1977 election campaign, Peres took over. At long last, the way was open.

And then the incredible happened. After 44 consecutive years in power, before and after the founding of Israel, the Labor Party lost the election. Menachem Begin came to power. Responsibility fell on the party leader, Shimon Peres. Nobody blamed Rabin.

ON THE eve of the 1982 Lebanon war, Peres and Rabin went to see Prime Minister Begin and urged him to attack. This did not prevent Peres, two months later, appearing as the main speaker at the giant protest demonstration after the Sabra and Shatila massacre.

Begin abdicated and Yitzhak Shamir took his place. In the following election Peres at least achieved a draw. Shamir became prime minister again for two years, to be followed by Peres. During his two years as Prime Minister, he did nothing for peace. His main act was to persuade President Chaim Herzog to amnesty the chief of the Security Service and a group of his men who admitted to having murdered with their bare hands two young Arab prisoners who had hijacked a bus.

In 1992 it was Rabin again who led their party to power. He appointed Peres to the Foreign Ministry, presumably because he could not harm him there. However, things took another direction.

Yasser Arafat, with whom I had been in contact since 1974 and whom I met in besieged Beirut in 1982, decided to make peace with Israel. Behind the scenes, contact was established in Oslo. The result was the historic Oslo agreement.

Between Peres, his assistant Yossi Beilin and Rabin a competition for the credit started. Peres tried to appropriate all of it for himself. Beilin angrily resisted. But it was, of course, Rabin who took the fateful decision and paid the price.

First there was the Battle for the Nobel. The Oslo committee decided of course to bestow it on Arafat and Rabin (as it had done before to Sadat and Begin). Peres furiously demanded a share and mobilized half the political world. But if Peres got it, why not Mahmoud Abbas, who had signed together with him, and who had worked for years for Palestinian-Israeli peace?

Nothing doing. The price can go only to three people at most. Peres got it, Abbas did not.

THE OSLO agreement opened a new road for Israel. Peres started to talk (endlessly) about the New Middle East, and adopted it as his personal trade mark. He and Rabin had patched things up between them. And then disaster struck again.

A few minutes after standing next to Peres and singing a peace song at a mass demonstration in Tel Aviv, Rabin was assassinated. Peres himself had passed the murderer with his cocked pistol, who would not flatter him with a bullet.

That was the dramatic high point of Peres, and of Israel. The entire country was seething with anger. If Peres, the sole successor, had proclaimed immediate elections, he would have won by a landslide. The future of Israel would have been different.

But Peres did not want to win as the heir to Rabin. He desired to win on his own merits. So he postponed the elections, started another war in Lebanon which ended in disaster, caused another deadly terror campaign by ordering the assassination of a beloved Hamas leader - and lost the elections.

In a variation of Murphy's law: "If an election can be lost, Peres will lose it. If an election cannot be lost, Peres will lose it anyhow."

On a memorable occasion, Peres addressed a party meeting and loudly posed the rhetorical question: "Am I a looser?" The entire audience roared in return: "Yes!"

THAT SHOULD have been the end of Sisyphus' troubles. New people took over the Labor Party. Peres was pushed aside. Or so it seemed.

Ariel Sharon, the extreme right-wing Likud leader, came to power. Throughout the world he was considered a war criminal, the author of several atrocities, blamed by an Israeli commission as "indirectly responsible" for the Sabra and Shatila massacre, the man behind the fateful settlement project. He needed someone to make him acceptable. And who did? Shimon Peres, the internationally renowned Man of Peace. Later, he did the same for Netanyahu.

But his rock rolled down a final time. The Knesset had to elect a President of Israel. Peres was the obvious candidate, opposed only by a political nobody, Moshe Katzav. Yet the impossible happened: Peres lost, although he had undergone an operation that changed his lifelong hangdog expression into something more likeable.

Even people who didn't like Peres agreed that this was just too much. Katzav was accused of rape and sent to prison. Peres finally, finally, won an election.

SINCE THEN, tragedy has turned into farce. The man who had been abused all his life suddenly became the most popular person in Israel. As President he could talk every day, letting loose with an endless stream of utter banalities. The public just lapped it up.

Throughout the world, Peres became one of the Grand Old Men, one of the Wise Elders, the Man of Peace, the symbol of all that is fine and good in Israel.

His successor has already been elected. A very nice person of the very extreme Right.

In a few weeks, Peres will finally step down.

Finally? Why, he is only 90!
(c) 2014 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom







U.S. Funds "Terror Studies" To Dissect And Neutralize Social Movements
By Glen Ford

The U.S. Department of Defense is immersed in studies about...people like you. The Pentagon wants to know why folks who don't themselves engage in violence to overthrow the prevailing order become, what the military calls, "supporters of political violence." And by that they mean, everyone who opposes U.S military policy in the world, or the repressive policies of U.S. allies and proxies, or who opposes the racially repressive U.S. criminal justice system, or who wants to push the One Percent off their economic and political pedestals so they can't lord it over the rest of us. (I'm sure you recognize yourself somewhere in that list.)

The Pentagon calls this new field of research "terrorism studies," which is designed to augment and inform their so-called War on Terror. Through their Minerva Research Initiative,/A>, the military has commissioned U.S. universities to help it figure out how to deal with dissatisfied and, therefore, dangerous populations all around the world, including the United States.

The Minerva Initiative was the subject of an article in The Guardian newspaper by Dr. Nafeez Ahmed, an academic who studies international security issues. The Initiative seeks to sharpen the U.S. military's "warfighter-relevant insights" into what makes people tick, and get ticked off at power structures, in regions "of strategic importance to the U.S." Since the U.S. is an empire seeking global hegemony, and sees the whole world as strategic, the Minerva program's areas of interest involve - everybody on the planet.

Total War Against the Planet

The Minerva project paid Cornel University researchers to find out when social movements reach a "critical mass" of people - a "tipping point" at which they become a threat to the powers-that-be. In the language of "terrorism studies," the human beings involved in these social movements are "contagions," as in vectors of disease. Neutralizing them becomes a job for "warfighters."

The University of Washington is studying "large scale movements involving more than 1,000 participants" in 58 countries, to see how these folks kept their movements going.

So, now you know why U.S. intelligence agencies are tapping the telephones and Internet communications of virtually the entire population of the planet. They are mapping every conceivable human network, sifting through the myriad patterns of human association to find possible vectors of resistance, which are to be identified and eradicated, like a disease. American military and intelligence enlisted academics to study the dynamics of "the 2011 Egyptian revolution, the 2011 Russian elections, the 2012 Nigerian fuel subsidy crisis and the 2013 Gazi park protests in Turkey" - all with the aim of preventing similar "contagions" from spreading.

The United States military sees itself as engaged in a total war against the entirety of planet Earth: all of its people, its social movements and dynamics, are enemy territory, including the people of the United States.

When American rulers say they are defending U.S. national security interests against all potential enemies, what they really mean is they are defending the prevailing capitalist order against any social movement that might oppose it, anywhere on Earth. They want to put the whole planet on lockdown, and have enlisted U.S. universities in their global fascist project.
(c) 2014 Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor. He can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.




Our choice is between ignoring overwhelming scientific evidence about the human contribution
to climate change and pollution or changing our ways and reducing carbon emissions
and fossil fuel dependence.



Pipeline Approval Flies In The Face Of Democracy And Global Warming
By David Suzuki

There was little doubt the federal government would approve the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project, regardless of public opposition or evidence presented against it. The prime minister indicated he wanted the pipeline built before the Joint Review Panel hearings even began. Ad campaigns, opponents demonized as foreign-funded radicals, gutted environmental laws and new pipeline and tanker regulations designed in part to mollify the B.C. government made the federal position even more clear.

Canadian resource policy is becoming increasingly divorced from democracy. Two infamous omnibus bills eviscerated hard-won legislation protecting Canada's water and waterways and eased obstacles for the joint review process, which recommended approval of the $7.9-billion project, subject to 209 conditions. The government has now agreed to that recommendation. The time-consuming hearings and numerous stipulations surely influenced the government's decision to restrict public participation in future reviews, making it difficult for people to voice concerns about projects such as Kinder Morgan's plan to twin and increase capacity of its Trans Mountain heavy oil pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby from 300,000 to 900,000 barrels a day, with a corresponding increase in tanker traffic in and out of Vancouver.

And to keep democracy out of fossil fuel industry expansion, the government switched decision-making from the independent National Energy Board to the prime minister's cabinet.

Probably the most egregious omission from the review process is the dismissal of impacts such as climate change and rapid tar sands expansion. Here's how the panel justified not taking these into account: "We did not consider that there was a sufficiently direct connection between the project and any particular existing or proposed oil sands development or other oil production activities to warrant consideration of the effects of these activities." As for climate change from burning the product, "These effects were outside our jurisdiction, and we did not consider them."

A pipeline to carry diluent from the coast to the tar sands to dilute bitumen that would then be carried back to the coast in another pipeline for export to world markets in supertankers does not have a "sufficiently direct connection" to the tar sands? And the impacts of the tar sands and its products on climate are not relevant to the project that makes these impacts possible? What the hell?

This project should never go ahead. And not just because no amount of money will undo damage from pipeline or tanker spills and accidents along the route, the B.C. coast or the ocean, or that it is opposed by First Nations and other affected communities and lacks social licence - although those are strong enough reasons to stop it. The main reasons it and other pipeline projects shouldn't be built are the very same ones the government and joint review panel refused to consider.

Rapid tar sands expansion, increasing reliance on dirty fossil fuels and more infrastructure that ties us to them for decades contravene the need to protect the environment, human health, global climate systems and even economic resilience.

Our choice is between ignoring overwhelming scientific evidence about the human contribution to climate change and pollution or changing our ways and reducing carbon emissions and fossil fuel dependence. It's about whether to join the green economy or pin our economic hopes on an increasingly risky industry. It's about the kind of country - and planet - we want to leave to our children and grandchildren.

The government has irresponsibly weakened democracy in its willful blindness to the most pressing economic and environmental issue of our time. The spectre of climate change means all humanity has a stake in the future of coal and oil. To avoid the worst impacts, we must shift to a zero-carbon-emissions energy system within the next few decades. Yet Canada doesn't even have a national energy strategy! As Canadians witness how vulnerable our communities are to climate change impacts like increased intense precipitation and flooding, sea-level rise and risks to food production, demand will grow for solutions such as clean energy.

Let the government know that you want a responsible energy future, not a dirty pipeline.

Northern Gateway has received qualified government approval. The decision will now face First Nations court challenges and backlash from the majority of British Columbians and Canadians whose voices have so far been ignored. For the sake of our communities and the future of our children, let's hope democracy prevails.
(c) 2014 David Suzuki is a well-known Canadian scientist, broadcaster and environmental activist.







The Militarization Of "Officer Friendly"

Let's check our weaponry: 93,000 machine guns, 533 planes and helicopters, 180,000 magazine cartridges, and 432 mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles. Okay, let's roll!

Only, this is not the US military. It's your and my local police departments patrolling our cities. Remember "Officer Friendly," the beat cops who were known as "peace officers"? The friendlies have largely been transformed into militarized forces, literally armed with and garbed in war gear and indoctrinated in military psychology, rather than the ethic of community policing.

Twenty years ago, Congress created the military transfer program, providing federal grants so chiefs of police and sheriffs could buy surplus firepower from the Pentagon. In a stunningly short time, our local police forces have become macho-military units, possessing an armory of Pentagon freebies ranging from 30-ton tanks to rifle silencers. They've gone from peacekeeping beats to over-the-top SWAT team aggression, unleashed on the citizenry tens of thousands of times a year, mainly for ordinary police work. For example, a gung-ho Florida SWAT team raided area barbershops in 2010 to stop the horror of "barbering without a license." And masked police in Louisiana launched a military raid on a nightclub in order to perform a liquor law inspection.

Militarization is a dangerous and ultimately deadly perversion of the honorable purpose of policing - and it is literally out of control. The New York Times notes that 38 states have received silencers to use in surreptitious raids. A sheriff in a North Dakota rural county with only 11,000 people told a Times reporter that he saw no need for silencers. When it was pointed out that his department had received 40 of them from the Pentagon, he was baffled, saying: "I don't recall approving them."
(c) 2014 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.








The Democratic Push To Bomb Iraq Again
By David Swanson

People forget the extent to which Democrats, who controlled the U.S. Senate at the time, pushed for and supported the 2003 attack on Iraq. Remember them or not, theeeeeeeeeey're back!

The Center for American Progress, the head of whose "action fund," former Democratic Congressman from Virginia's Fifth District Tom Perriello, slipped through the revolving door into a State Department job in February, is now pushing for "principled" bombings of Iraq.

Principled or not, the Center for American Progress is funded by Lockheed Martin, and other huge war profiteers. C.A.P. has just put out a report recommending that air strikes be considered.

For that to happen, many other things need to not be considered:

1. The views of the U.S. public, which opposes more wars and some of whom here in the fifth district of Virginia fantasized they'd elected an antiwar candidate in Periello several years back.

2. The views of the Iraqi public, who have been nonviolently and violently protesting an illegitimate government installed by the U.S.-led occupation.

3. The rule of law, which bans wars (under both the U.N. Charter and the Kellogg-Briand Pact) even in places where the U.S. has recently fought wars in blatant violation of the law without any legal consequences.

4. The U.S. Constitution, which required that wars be authorized by Congress even before Article VI came to encompass the aforementioned treaties.

5. The 100-year history of foreign military interference consistently making things worse in Iraq.

6. The 11-year history of foreign military interference making things dramatically worse in Iraq to the point where it is no exaggeration to say that the nation has been destroyed.

7. The record suicide rate among U.S. war veterans, many of whom are realizing the role they played in destroying Iraq.

8. The liberties we keep losing as long as the wars for "freedom" role on.

9. The environmental destruction of our largest consumer of petroleum and greatest poisoner of land masses, the U.S. military.

10. The financial cost of trillion-dollar wars when tens of billions in reparations and actual aid could make a world of difference.

11. The history of small numbers of "advisors" in Vietnam and many other wars mushrooming into devastating occupations and millions of murders.

12. The need people have to imagine that Democrats are fundamentally different from Republicans. Think of the damage being done to that already tenuous pretense. Spare those tender souls any troubled thoughts if you can't spare the lives of Iraqis for their own sake.

(c) 2014 David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie."








Where Are The Bookworms?
By James Donahue

As a writer, I was alarmed when I read a recent report in the Christian Science Monitor that people aren't reading good books anymore.

The story said that while America has grown by 40 million adults in the past 20 years, only about 600,000 more adults are reading books of fiction, poetry or drama. And the decline is worse among young adults.

For the first time since books began being published for the masses, and children were taught to read them, less than half of the adult population chooses to devote spare time reading literature. And nearly two-thirds of men don't read at all, the report said.

The writing that is going on appears to be brief commentary on social Internet web sites like Facebook, Twitter or via the new notepad craze. Entire words are being abbreviated to letters and letter combinations that symbolize common phrases. Thus even the art of correct spelling and punctuation is disappearing.

The Monitor writer warned that our society is consequently becoming "less imaginative." Literary critic Harold Bloom was quoted as saying we are becoming a nation of oblivious narcissists with a shrinking capacity to empathize, imagine, visualize and dream.

Dana Gioia, chairman of the National Education Association said: "We are seeing, I think, a great dumbing down of America. We've never had a population so seemingly well-educated or so affluent - and yet we have proportionally fewer readers."

Oh, there are exceptions. J. K. Rowling's successful Harry Potter series have been drawing children to the libraries and book stores by the droves, and biographical works by some of the famous and infamous celebrities have been good sellers. But these are examples of the extreme.

I suspect it was vogue to have Bill Clinton's book, My Life, lying on the coffee table back when it was first issued, as it will be Hillery Clinton's new biography: Hard Choices. But I wonder how many people are actually taking the time to read them.

As a published book author and former book publisher, I think I understand many of the ills of the industry. It is the same malaise that is sweeping the music and movie industry. There seems to be a control on writers, musicians and film makers that originates in the church. I think organized crime also may be involved. And it is difficult, at least for me, to separate one from the other.

Whatever the truth, it is almost impossible for new writers and artists to break into the fine arts field if their work is creative and non-conforming.

I discovered that publishers wouldn't give my books the time of day. My offers that included opening chapters of my books and a general description of the work would come back unopened. When I gave up and launched my own publishing business, I found that people wanted to read my books and I had no trouble selling them.

But I found myself wedged between a rock and a hard place with this venture. I am a writer, not a businessman. I found myself devoting all of my time selling, promoting, delivering cases of books, keeping financial records, filing out required tax records and maintaining volumes of paperwork. There was no time left in my day to write new material. Thus eventually my business was sold, the books went out of print, and I am back in limbo.

Yet people still contact me, asking for copies of my books. Sadly, the books are out of print.

When I was a teenager, I was a true bookworm. I haunted the local library and always had my nose in a book. I read every night before going to sleep, and sometimes picked up a book in the morning and got in a chapter before getting out of bed.

In college I majored in English Literature, and got so many hours in American Literature that I almost could have claimed a minor in that field. Anybody who has followed this course of study knows that required a lot of book reading. One of my classes required no less than 25 books devoured in a single semester. And that just earned a C grade. Fifty books earned an A. I got somewhere in the 30 something range by the time the class ended.

My interest in reading waned in recent years. I find that most books on the market are dull. The plots are so familiar I know how the book will thread just looking at the jacket in the store. The thought of forking out six to twelve dollars for a paperback, with print so small my old eyes need a magnifying glass to read it, is not something I am willing to do.

Sadly I, like so many other Americans, have joined the line of non-book readers. It is not that I don't miss the pleasure of a good read. I just can't find one.
(c) 2014 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site.




Scott Walker



Why Scott Walker Will Never Be President
By John Nichols

Scott Walker, an ardent Ronald Reagan fan from his youth, was never likely to follow Reagan's footsteps to the White House. The Wisconsin governor lacks his hero's way with words, skill for crossing lines of partisan and ideological division (especially within the Republican Party) and confidence on the national campaign trail.

Yet Walker has wanted to believe in the possibility so badly that he has spent the two years since his 2012 recall election win positioning himself as a contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. He penned a campaign book, Unintimidated: A Governor's Story and a Nation's Challenge, which was so transparent in its ambitions that Glenn Beck's The Blaze refers to it as "the prototypical book about someone running for president who doesn't want to come out and actually say that he is running for president." He jetted off to Las Vegas to to try and impress Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, but Adelson missed the Wisconsinite┬┤s speech. He even persisted in making the rounds nationally after polls showed that his enthusiasm for presidential politics did not sit well with the Wisconsin voters he must face in a November re-election bid.

But with the release of documents in which Wisconsin prosecutors allege Walker helped to engineer an expansive "criminal scheme" to coordinate efforts by conservative groups to help his recall campaign-by circumventing campaign finance laws-Walker's presidential prospects look less realistic even than those of his mentor, scandal-plagued New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

The headlines in Wisconsin Thursday were damning:

"John Doe prosecutors allege Scott Walker at center of 'criminal scheme'" "Prosecutors accuse Walker of running 'criminal scheme'"
And the national headlines were just as rough. "Prosecutors: Scott Walker part of 'criminal scheme," read the headline of a Politico story that opened with a breathless report that:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker participated in a "criminal scheme" to coordinate fundraising for the Republican in response to efforts to recall him and state senators from office, local prosecutors argue in court documents released Thursday.

Walker, his chief of staff and others were involved in the coordination effort with "a number of national groups and prominent figures," including Karl Rove, says special prosecutor Francis Schmitz.

"[T]he evidence shows an extensive coordination scheme that pervaded nearly every aspect of the campaign activities during the historic 2011 and 2012 Wisconsin Senate and Gubernatorial recall elections," Schmitz wrote in a December motion, on behalf of five attorneys from some of the state's most liberal counties, just now unsealed by an appellate court judge.

Even worse for a governor who has already had to try an explain away highly controversial emails from former aides, as well as the investigations, prosecutions and convictions of aides, appointees, allies and campaign donors, are the actual details of the documents that were ordered unsealed by Federal Appeals Judge Frank Easterbrook.

"The documents include an excerpt from an email in which Walker tells Karl Rove, former top adviser to President George W. Bush, that (veteran Wisconsin Republican operative R.J.) Johnson would lead the coordination campaign. Johnson is also Walker's longtime campaign strategist and the chief adviser to Wisconsin Club for Growth, a conservative group active in the recall elections," reported the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the state's largest paper.

The May 4, 2011, e-mail to Rove read: "Bottom-line: R.J. helps keep in place a team that is wildly successful in Wisconsin. We are running 9 recall elections and it will be like 9 congressional markets in every market in the state (and Twin Cities)."

Walker, who is certainly no stranger to controversy, claimed Thursday that he had been vindicated by judges who have restricted-and even attempted to shut down-the "John Doe" investigation into political wrongdoing. But other judges have sustained the inquiry.

Walker allies argue that he is the victim of a "witch hunt" organized by Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm and other top prosecutors, who they allege are out to silence conservatives and harm Republicans. Chisholm is a Democrat, but he is also a respected prosecutor who has gone after Democrats and worked with Republicans.

Lawyers for targets of the probe are fighting to shut it down and, in this unsettled and uncertain post-Citizens United period with regard to state and national campaign finance laws, they believe they will succeed.

Attempts to halt the probe, which have been cheered on by advocates for a no-holds-barred "big money" politics, are part of a broader strategy to gut remaining campaign-finance laws. One way to super-charge the influence of major donors and corporate interests is to undermine bans on coordination between candidates and their campaigns with "independent" groups that operate under different and more flexible rules for raising and spending money during a campaign.

"If you don't have restrictions on coordination, then the contribution limits become meaningless," Paul S. Ryan, the senior counsel for the watchdog group Campaign Legal Center, explained. Ryan told Politico that without the restrictions, a donor "could max out under the limits [for donating to a candidate], but then you could also just say to the candidates, 'Hey give me an ad script and we'll walk down to the TV station and do this ad for you.'"

But even if the probe is prevented from going forward, the documents that have now been released-in combination with the February release of 27,000 pages of e-mails from the seized from the "secret e-mail system" computers of a former Walker aide who has been convicted of political wrongdoing-paint a picture of a governor whose political style does not say "statesman."

There is no question that Walker is a hero to some Republicans, and to some conservatives.

But Republicans and conservatives who want to win back the White House have to be realistic enough to recognize that Walker has a paper trail that is unlikely to read well on the 2016 campaign trail.

In fact, if the Wisconsin polls that have Walker tied with Democratic challenger Mary Burke are to be believed, Walker might have trouble getting past the 2014 election.
(c) 2014 John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. His new book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, has just been published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.




Anti-war protesters, wearing masks depicting former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, right,
former U.S. President George W. Bush, center, and former British Prime Minister
Tony Blair, pose for photographers.




The Ghoulish Face Of Empire
By Chris Hedges

The black-clad fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, sweeping a collapsing army and terrified Iraqis before them as they advance toward Baghdad, reflect back to us the ghoulish face of American empire. They are the specters of the hundreds of thousands of people we murdered in our deluded quest to remake the Middle East. They are ghosts from the innumerable roadsides and villages where U.S. soldiers and Marines, jolted by explosions of improvised explosive devices, responded with indiscriminate fire. They are the risen remains of the dismembered Iraqis left behind by blasts of Hellfire and cruise missiles, howitzers, grenade launchers and drone strikes. They are the avengers of the gruesome torture and the sexual debasement that often came with being detained by American troops. They are the final answer to the collective humiliation of an occupied country, the logical outcome of Shock and Awe, the Frankenstein monster stitched together from the body parts we left scattered on the ground. They are what we get for the $4 trillion we wasted on the Iraq War.

The language of violence engenders violence. The language of hate engenders hate. "I and the public know what all schoolchildren learn," W.H. Auden wrote. "Those to whom evil is done do evil in return." It is as old as the Bible.

There is no fight left in us. The war is over. We destroyed Iraq as a unified country. It will never be put back together. We are reduced-in what must be an act of divine justice decreed by the gods, whom we have discovered to our dismay are Islamic-to pleading with Iran for military assistance to shield the corrupt and despised U.S. protectorate led by Nouri al-Maliki. We are not, as we thought when we entered Iraq, the omnipotent superpower able in a swift and brutal stroke to bend a people to our will. We are something else. Fools and murderers. Blinded by hubris. Faded relics of the Cold War. And now, in the final act of the play, we are crawling away. Our empire is dying.

We should have heeded, while we had a chance, the wails of mothers and fathers. We should have listened to the cries of the wounded. We should have wept over the bodies of Iraqi children lined up in neat rows in the morgues. We should have honored grief so we could honor life. But the dance of death is intoxicating. Once it begins you whirl in an ecstatic frenzy. Death's embrace, which feels at first like sexual lust, tightens and tightens until you suffocate. Now the music has stopped. All we have left are loss and pain.

And where are the voices of sanity? Why are the cheerleaders of slaughter, who have been wrong about Iraq since before the invasion, still urging us toward ruin? Why are those who destabilized Iraq and the region in the worst strategic blunder in American history still given a hearing? Why do we listen to simpletons and morons?

They bang their fists. They yell. They throw tantrums. They demand that the world conform to their childish vision. It is as if they have learned nothing from the 11 years of useless slaughter. As if they can dominate that which they never had the power to dominate.

I sat in a restaurant Thursday in Boston's Kenmore Square with military historian Andrew Bacevich. You won't hear his voice much on the airwaves. He is an apostate. He speaks of the world as it is, not the self-delusional world our empire builders expect it to be. He knows war with a painful intimacy, not only as a Vietnam combat veteran and a retired Army colonel but also as the father of a U.S. Army officer killed in a 2007 suicide bombing in Iraq.

"In the 1990s there was a considerable effort made in the military, but also in the larger community of national security experts scratching their heads and [asking] what are the implications of all this technology," he said. "They conceived of something called the Revolution in Military Affairs-RMA. If you believed in the Revolution of Military Affairs you knew that nothing could stop the United States military when it engaged in a conflict. Victory was, for all practical purposes, a certainty. People like Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, and I expect Dick Cheney also, bought this hook, line and sinker. You put yourself in their shoes in the wake of 9/11. An attack comes out of Afghanistan, a country frankly nobody cares about, and you conceive of this grand strategy of trying to transform the Islamic world. Where are we going to start? We are going to start by attacking a country [Iraq]-we had it under surveillance and sanctions for the past decade-where there is a bona fide bad guy to make a moral case and where we are confident we can make short work of this adversary, a further demonstration that the American military cannot be stopped. They utterly and totally miscalculated. Iraq is falling apart. And many of these people, either in government or outside of government, who were proponents of the war are now advocating for a resumption of the American war. Not one of them is willing to acknowledge the extent of that military miscalculation. Once you acknowledge it, then the whole project of militarizing U.S. policy towards the Greater Middle East collapses."

Bacevich blames the concentration of power into the hands of the executive branch for the debacle. He said that since the Kennedy administration "the incoming president and his team, it does not matter which party, see the permanent government as a problem. If we [the new officials] are going to get done what we want to get done we have to find ways to marginalize the permanent government. This has led to the centralization of authority in the White House and means decisions are made by a very small number of people. The consultation becomes increasingly informal, to the point it is not even documented."

"I do not think we even know when the decision to go to war with Iraq was actually made," Bacevich said. "There is no documented meeting where [President George W.] Bush sat down with how many people-six, 10, 25-and said, 'Let's vote.' The decision kind of emerged and therefore was implemented. Why would you operate that way? You would operate that way if you viewed the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the CIA and the State Department as, in a sense, the enemy."

"The invasion of Iraq was intended to be a catalyst," he said. "It was supposed to be the catalyst that would enable us ... to change the region. It turned out to be the catalyst that resulted in destabilization. The big question of the moment is not what can we do or is there anything we can do to salvage Iraq. The question is to what degree have our actions resulted in this larger regional mayhem. And to the extent they have, isn't it time to rethink fundamentally our expectations of what American power, and particularly American military power, can achieve?"

"We need to take a radically different course," Bacevich said. "There is an analogy to be made with Great Britain in the wake of World War I. It was in World War I that Britain and France collaborated to dismantle the Ottoman Empire to create the new Middle East. While on the one hand there was an awareness that Britain was in decline, at the level where policy was made there was not a willingness to consider the implications of that fact. It took World War II to drive it home-that the [British] empire was doomed. I think that is where we are."

Out of this decline, Bacevich said, is emerging a multipolar order. The United States will no longer be able to operate as an unchallenged superpower. But, he said, similar to the condition that existed as the British Empire took its last gasps, "there is very little willingness in Washington or in policy circles to take on board the implications multipolarity would call for in terms of adjusting our policy."

The inability to adjust to our declining power means that the United States will continue to squander its resources, its money and its military.

"By squandering power we forfeit our influence because we look stupid and we bankrupt ourselves," Bacevich said. "We will spend $4 trillion, not dollars spent in the moment but dollars we will have spent the last time the last Afghanistan veteran gets his last VA check. That money is gone forever. It is concealed because in the Bush administration's confidence that victory would be easily won the government did not bother to mobilize the country or increase our taxes. We weaken ourselves economically. People complain about our crappy infrastructure. Give me $4 trillion and I probably could have fixed a couple of bridges. And we must never forget the human cost. Lives lost, lives damaged. And in these two wars [Afghanistan and Iraq] there does seem to be this increase in PTSD that we don't know what to do about. It is a squandering of human capital."

Bacevich said the "military mind-set" has so infected the discourse of the power elite that when there is a foreign policy problem the usual response is to discuss "three different courses of military action. ... Should it be airstrikes with drones? Should it be airstrikes with manned aircraft? Special operations forces? Or some combination of all three? And that's what you get." The press, he said, is an "echo chamber and reinforces the notion that those are the [only] options."

The disintegration of Iraq is irreversible. At best, the Kurds, the Shiites and the Sunnis will carve out antagonistic enclaves. At worst, there will be a protracted civil war. This is what we have bequeathed to Iraq. The spread of our military through the region has inflamed jihadists across the Arab world. The resulting conflicts will continue until we end our occupation of the Middle East. The callous slaughter we deliver is no different from the callous slaughter we receive. Our jihadists-George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle, Thomas Friedman and Tommy Franks-who assured us that swift and overwhelming force in Iraq would transform the Middle East into an American outpost of progress, are no less demented than the jihadists approaching Baghdad. These two groups of killers mirror each other. This is what we have spawned. And this is what we deserve.
(c) 2014 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, ""Death Of The Liberal Class."




If, like Mark Cuban, you think high frequency trading is one big hack of an electronic system,
it should be no surprise that the financial sector is also susceptible to more direct forms of cybercrime.




Cybercriminals Reportedly Hack Unnamed Hedge Fund
Here's why that matters to the rest of us
By David Sirota

According to CNBC's Eamon Javers, "Cybercriminals acting in late 2013 installed a malicious computer program on the servers of a large hedge fund, crippling its high-speed trading strategy and sending information about its trades to unknown offsite computers." Ultimately, Javers reports that "the malware represented a multimillion dollar problem for the hedge fund" and "the intruders were able to reap significant profits."

Contextualizing the previously undisclosed episode, Javers says "The new wave of attacks includes other assaults on hedge funds seemingly designed to uncover their trading strategies, and implies the existence of cybercriminals with the technical savvy to attack highly secure computer networks and, at the same time, the financial and market savvy to replicate intricate high-speed trading strategies."

If this kind of thing was happening to a traditional bank, consumers would have less to worry about, because they would know their deposits are at least backed up by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. But when it comes to most hedge funds, there is no such federal backstop. As Ameriprise Financial's website puts it in its discussion about hedge funds, "Investment products are not federally or FDIC-insured, are not deposits or obligations of, or guaranteed by any financial institution, and involve investment risks including possible loss of principal and fluctuation in value."

In other words, save for a few exceptions, if your money gets stolen from your hedge fund manager, there's usually no government-guaranteed insurance for you.

Now sure, it's easy to think there's no need for regular old average consumers to worry about cyber criminals stealing from hedge funds. After all, hedge fund managers are some of the richest people in the world, and their individual clients are at the top of the overall income and wealth scale themselves. Indeed, Securities and Exchange Commission rules do not allow individuals to invest in hedge funds unless they prove that they have a net worth "that exceeds $1 million... income exceeding $200,000 in each of the two most recent years or joint income with a spouse exceeding $300,000 for those years and a reasonable expectation of the same income level in the current year."

However, all of that should be false comfort to the average income earner because while those SEC guidelines are about individual investors, they are not about institutional investors - many of which manage average individuals' money. As just one example, state and local governments are institutional investors that, by one estimate, now have $115 billion worth of taxpayer funds in hedge funds.

The point here is that because the American has become so financialized, there's no escape from the financial sector. It touches so many parts of the economy that a cybercime threat against it poses risks way beyond the office towers on Wall Street - risks that, again, are not insured against by an agency like the FDIC.

Because of this systemic risk, the SEC recently announced it "will be conducting examinations of more than 50 registered broker-dealers and registered investment advisers, focusing on areas related to cybersecurity." Reuters earlier reported that "Inspections are designed to catch major problems before they bubble up; however, exams can also lead to enforcement action if the SEC uncovers egregious activity or repeat violations."

No doubt, the exams and the fears stoked by this week's news from CNBC may end up resulting in a serious business opportunity for the cybersecurity industry, as Wall Street firms frantically try to bulk up their defenses.

But that may not the only business opportunity. There's also the new hedge fund being constructed by famed hacker Andrew Auernheimer - a hedge fund that whose strategy, he says will be "to identify a company that has [information security] liabilities that no one knows about yet." In an interview with the New Republic after being released from prison, Auernheimer said: "When someone affiliated with our fund identifies negligent privacy breaches at a public web service, we will take a short position in that company's shares and then tell the media about it." At least on the surface, the incentives seem constructive: either firms will get serious about their security infrastructure, or they will be publicly shamed (which has the added benefit of providing more fodder for investigative journalism, too!). If you think that sounds like a business model based on trolling Wall Street, you're right: Auernheimer says he's going to name his hedge fund TRO LLC.
(c) 2014 David Sirota is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, magazine journalist, a staff writer at PandoDaily and the best-selling author of "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at OpenLeft.com. E-mail him at ds@davidsirota.com. David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee. Follow him on Twitter @davidsirota.




Carbon dioxide emissions like those from coal-fired power plants should be taxed to spur energy innovation.




The Big Green Test
By Paul Krugman

On Sunday Henry Paulson, the former Treasury secretary and a lifelong Republican, had an Op-Ed article about climate policy in The New York Times. In the article, he declared that man-made climate change is "the challenge of our time, and called for a national tax on carbon emissions to encourage conservation and the adoption of green technologies. Considering the prevalence of climate denial within today's G.O.P., and the absolute opposition to any kind of tax increase, this was a brave stand to take.

But not nearly brave enough. Emissions taxes are the Economics 101 solution to pollution problems; every economist I know would start cheering wildly if Congress voted in a clean, across-the-board carbon tax. But that isn't going to happen in the foreseeable future. A carbon tax may be the best thing we could do, but we won't actually do it.

Yet there are a number of second-best things (in the technical sense, as I'll explain shortly) that we're either doing already or might do soon. And the question for Mr. Paulson and other conservatives who consider themselves environmentalists is whether they're willing to accept second-best answers, and in particular whether they're willing to accept second-best answers implemented by the other party. If they aren't, their supposed environmentalism is an empty gesture.

Let me give some examples of what I'm talking about.

First, consider rules like fuel efficiency standards, or "net metering" mandates requiring that utilities buy back the electricity generated by homeowners' solar panels. Any economics student can tell you that such rules are inefficient compared with the clean incentives provided by an emissions tax. But we don't have an emissions tax, and fuel efficiency rules and net metering reduce greenhouse gas emissions. So a question for conservative environmentalists: Do you support the continuation of such mandates, or are you with the business groups (spearheaded by the Koch brothers) campaigning to eliminate them and impose fees on home solar installations?

Second, consider government support for clean energy via subsidies and loan guarantees. Again, if we had an appropriately high emissions tax such support might not be necessary (there would be a case for investment promotion even then, but never mind). But we don't have such a tax. So the question is, Are you O.K. with things like loan guarantees for solar plants, even though we know that some loans will go bad, Solyndra-style?

Finally, what about the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal that it use its regulatory authority to impose large reductions in emissions from power plants? The agency is eager to pursue market-friendly solutions to the extent it can - basically by imposing emissions limits on states, while encouraging states or groups of states to create cap-and-trade systems that effectively put a price on carbon. But this will nonetheless be a partial approach that addresses only one source of greenhouse gas emissions. Are you willing to support this partial approach?

By the way: Readers well versed in economics will recognize that I'm talking about what is technically known as the "theory of the second best." According to this theory, distortions in one market - in this case, the fact that there are large social costs to carbon emissions, but individuals and firms don't pay a price for emitting carbon - can justify government intervention in other, related markets. Second-best arguments have a dubious reputation in economics, because the right policy is always to eliminate the primary distortion, if you can. But sometimes you can't, and this is one of those times.

Which brings me back to Mr. Paulson. In his Op-Ed he likens the climate crisis to the financial crisis he helped confront in 2008. Unfortunately, it's not a very good analogy: In the financial crisis he could credibly argue that disaster was only days away, while the climate catastrophe will unfold over many decades.

So let me suggest a different analogy, one that he probably won't like. In policy terms, climate action - if it happens at all - will probably look like health reform. That is, it will be an awkward compromise dictated in part by the need to appease special interests, not the clean, simple solution you would have implemented if you could have started from scratch. It will be the subject of intense partisanship, relying overwhelmingly on support from just one party, and will be the subject of constant, hysterical attacks. And it will, if we're lucky, nonetheless do the job.

Did I mention that health reform is clearly working, despite its flaws?

The question for Mr. Paulson and those of similar views is whether they're willing to go along with that kind of imperfection. If they are, welcome aboard.
(c) 2014 Paul Krugman --- The New York Times









The Quotable Quote...



"Congress - seems to never know what the CIA and other intelligence agencies are doing. Like the Romans, they no longer talk of the republic or liberty. And like the Romans, the American people, or most of them anyway, don't seem to care. ... Like the Romans, we no longer have a citizen army but professional legions, and whether they wear jackboots or not, some federal officers seem to regard Americans with about the same compassion as the Praetorian Guard had for the plebes.

As in Rome, the air is full of suspicion, intrigues and conspiracies, real or imagined, and the air reeks of greed and opportunism. As those on the Tiber, the rulers on the Potomac have grown suspicious of the people, don't trust them and, in some cases fear them. And, as in Rome, they grovel in luxury while taking 40 cents on the dollar out of the sweat of working people to pay for corn and circuses to keep the mob satisfied." ~~~ Charley Reese





Top-secret documents reveal how the NSA has established secret
partnerships to spy on huge flows of private data.




How Secret Partners Expand NSA's Surveillance Dragnet
By Ryan Gallagher

Huge volumes of private emails, phone calls, and internet chats are being intercepted by the National Security Agency with the secret cooperation of more foreign governments than previously known, according to newly disclosed documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The classified files, revealed today by the Danish newspaper Dagbladet Information in a reporting collaboration with The Intercept, shed light on how the NSA's surveillance of global communications has expanded under a clandestine program, known as RAMPART-A, that depends on the participation of a growing network of intelligence agencies.

It has already been widely reported that the NSA works closely with eavesdropping agencies in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia as part of the so-called Five Eyes surveillance alliance. But the latest Snowden documents show that a number of other countries, described by the NSA as "third-party partners," are playing an increasingly important role -by secretly allowing the NSA to install surveillance equipment on their fiber-optic cables.

The NSA documents state that under RAMPART-A, foreign partners "provide access to cables and host U.S. equipment." This allows the agency to covertly tap into "congestion points around the world" where it says it can intercept the content of phone calls, faxes, e-mails, internet chats, data from virtual private networks, and calls made using Voice over IP software like Skype.

The program, which the secret files show cost U.S. taxpayers about $170 million between 2011 and 2013, sweeps up a vast amount of communications at lightning speed. According to the intelligence community's classified "Black Budget" for 2013, RAMPART-A enables the NSA to tap into three terabits of data every second as the data flows across the compromised cables -the equivalent of being able to download about 5,400 uncompressed high-definition movies every minute.

In an emailed statement, the NSA declined to comment on the RAMPART-A program. "The fact that the U.S. government works with other nations, under specific and regulated conditions, mutually strengthens the security of all," said NSA spokeswoman Vanee' Vines. "NSA's efforts are focused on ensuring the protection of the national security of the United States, its citizens, and our allies through the pursuit of valid foreign intelligence targets only."

The secret documents reveal that the NSA has set up at least 13 RAMPART-A sites, nine of which were active in 2013. Three of the largest -codenamed AZUREPHOENIX, SPINNERET and MOONLIGHTPATH -mine data from some 70 different cables or networks. The precise geographic locations of the sites and the countries cooperating with the program are among the most carefully guarded of the NSA's secrets, and these details are not contained in the Snowden files. However, the documents point towards some of the countries involved -Denmark and Germany among them.

An NSA memo prepared for a 2012 meeting between the then-NSA director, Gen. Keith Alexander, and his Danish counterpart noted that the NSA had a longstanding partnership with the country's intelligence service on a special "cable access" program. Another document, dated from 2013 and first published by Der Spiegel on Wednesday, describes a German cable access point under a program that was operated by the NSA, the German intelligence service BND, and an unnamed third partner.

The Danish and German operations appear to be associated with RAMPART-A because it is the only NSA cable-access initiative that depends on the cooperation of third-party partners. Other NSA operations tap cables without the consent or knowledge of the countries that host the cables, or are operated from within the United States with the assistance of American telecommunications companies that have international links. One secret NSA document notes that most of the RAMPART-A projects are operated by the partners "under the cover of an overt comsat effort," suggesting that the tapping of the fiber-optic cables takes place at Cold War-era eavesdropping stations in the host countries, usually identifiable by their large white satellite dishes and radomes.

A shortlist of other countries potentially involved in the RAMPART-A operation is contained in the Snowden archive. A classified presentation dated 2013, published recently in Intercept editor Glenn Greenwald's book No Place To Hide, revealed that the NSA had top-secret spying agreements with 33 third-party countries, including Denmark, Germany, and 15 other European Union member states:

For any foreign government, allowing the NSA to secretly tap private communications is politically explosive, hence the extreme secrecy shrouding the names of those involved. But governments that participate in RAMPART-A get something in return: access to the NSA's sophisticated surveillance equipment, so they too can spy on the mass of data that flows in and out of their territory.

The partnership deals operate on the condition that the host country will not use the NSA's spy technology to collect any data on U.S. citizens. The NSA also agrees that it will not use the access it has been granted to collect data on the host countries' citizens. One NSA document notes that "there ARE exceptions" to this rule -though does not state what those exceptions may be.

According to Snowden, the agreements that the NSA has in place with its partners are lax and easily circumvented. In a statement to the European parliament in March, he used Denmark and Germany as examples to describe how the NSA had effectively established what he called a "European bazaar" for surveillance.

"An EU member state like Denmark may give the NSA access to a tapping center on the (unenforceable) condition that NSA doesn't search it for Danes, and Germany may give the NSA access to another on the condition that it doesn't search for Germans," Snowden said.

"Yet the two tapping sites may be two points on the same cable, so the NSA simply captures the communications of the German citizens as they transit Denmark, and the Danish citizens as they transit Germany, all the while considering it entirely in accordance with their agreements."

_____

Source documents for this article can be found here.
(c) 2014 Ryan Gallagher is a Scottish journalist whose work at The Intercept is focused on government surveillance, technology, and civil liberties. His journalism has appeared in publications including Slate, the Guardian, Ars Technica, Huffington Post, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Financial Times, the Independent, and the New Statesman.








How To Encounter A Black Woman's Body: The Politics of Mammy Sphinx
This is how it feels when people are more comfortable seeing relics of you, than figuring out how to live among you
By Brittney Cooper

When I was about 7 years old, I eagerly bit into a piece of freshly cut, raw sugar cane, that had just been harvested from my great-grandmother's garden. As the cold, sickly sweet juices gathered in my mouth, tasting very little like what I associated with sugar, I vowed never to taste such a thing again. This is one vow, after all these years, I have managed to keep.

This being my most memorable encounter with the raw product of sugar, I wasn't prepared fully to step into the Domino Sugar Factory recently to see Kara Walker's latest exhibit. "On Subtlety" (for short) features as its centerpiece a gigantic white sugar sculpture known as the Mammy Sphinx. After walking through all the figures of little worker boys, coated in sticky molasses, toting baskets nearly half their size, you encounter the massive and majestic white sculpture at a distance, surrounded by all of us and our gawking eyes. I appreciated that there was time and space for an approach, that there was time to make space for my own trepidation. Having studied a bit of Kara Walker's art in graduate school, I knew her work would be jarring, imposing, non-subtle, gratuitous and provocative. That is the point, I guess.

As my homegirl and I gingerly approached first the front of her, then her left flank, then her backside, then finally her right flank, taking in her massive whiteness, I felt oddly - cared for.

Looking at her stout thighs, her round posterior, and her sturdy feet, parts of her body felt familiar to me, like the bodies of so many thick, round, healthy (as we colloquially refer to these thick sanguine bodies back home) women I know. Those women grew sugar cane, and corn, and potatoes, tilled land, shelled bushels of peas, birthed generations, and made a headscarf look like a crown. She reminded me of all of those women who are a part of me and, thus, of myself.

I know there is a risk in making such connections, especially with this body type that conjures up what Patricia Hill Collins refers to as the "controlling image" of the Mammy. I know the risk, of associating my own body with the asexual, overly maternal black woman, whose compulsory labor and coerced affection for white children, far too many white folks romanticize.

But our affective relationships with art are intrinsically complicated. I will allow myself that grace even as I can't quite bring myself to grant it to the man who made his female companion take a picture of him as he posed with his hand, flatly in the air, pointing in the direction of the sphinx's rear. Taken at a certain scale, the picture most assuredly will look like his hand is planted firmly on her ass.

This is how it feels ... to be a problem ... to experience this kind of art, which is so deeply about race and class, among the likes of people who share a very different history with such bodies than you do.

Standing there talking with my friend, a Brooklynite, processing all the emotions the Sphinx conjured, including the slight discomfort of encountering her in a factory with these many throngs of non-black people, our conversation inevitably turned, as so many think pieces about the sculpture have done, to gentrification. How do you enjoy this art when stats would probably bear out that many of these Brooklyn newcomers live in places previously populated by black families that have now been priced out of the neighborhood? What happens when people are far more comfortable going to see relics of you - trace evidence of your presence - in a makeshift museum, than figuring out how to live in an unimperialist fashion among you?

Last week, Matthew Desmond, a Harvard sociologist, wrote about the epidemic levels of eviction for poor black women. Not only do these women make lower wages than their black male working-class counterparts, but they often have children, which makes them more vulnerable to eviction. Once women are evicted then it becomes even harder for them to find housing. So Desmond concludes that while poor black men are "locked up," poor black women are "locked out." Even as other critics have discussed the politics of "dirty sugar" that shape the existence of the Domino Sugar Factory and talked about how its imminent destruction to make way for high-rise condos on the waterfront, very few of them have seemed able to really center a black women's body and labor within the space of this conversation. Bringing much needed diasporic and non-U.S. centric points of view to the table, many of these pieces still fail to really grapple with this simulacrum of a black woman's body, the materiality not only of the sculpture, but the material displacements that black women experience every day in places like Brooklyn.

Evictions of sisters in my milieu are whispered, shameful experiences, better to be gotten through and gotten over, then forgotten about. But they are happening in these places built by the labor not just of black people but of black women. This history of imminent displacement seems incredibly difficult for black women to shake, especially when our bodies remain tethered to controlling images that will not turn us loose.

One of the most striking things about the Sphinx is that she lies there on her haunches, rooted in place, demanding that we all reckon with what she means, together, despite our separateness. Colorlines reports that a group of black women organized on Facebook to come see the exhibit after being disturbed by the paucity of black people coming to see the Sphinx. Nick Powers, a professor at SUNY Westbury, attending as part of the group, challenged those who stood behind the sculpture for taking offensive photos of her vulva. I am glad this group disturbed the peace, making it clear that despite the sugary refined whiteness of the Sphinx, nothing about the lives of the women she represents, the indignities they endured, their bodies on display, their lives invisible, their labor summarily exploited and outsourced to build the wealth of white people, was remotely idyllic.

During the process of carving the Sphinx, Kara Walker made a collage as part of her inspiration for the structure of the sculpture. The collage, which can be seen here, is a the picture of a scantily clad black woman, perhaps a video vixen lying on her haunches, ass out, adorned with lingerie. The head of the woman has been ripped off or covered over and replaced with an image of the Sphinx.

The Mammy Sphinx blends high and low art, reminding us, as proselytizing Afrocentric types are wont to do, of both the supposedly lofty Egyptian ancestral heritage from which we (the undifferentiated mass of diasporic Africans) hail and the supposedly low depths to which we (African-American women who allegedly don't know our history) have succumbed, pulled there mostly by our willingness to muck around in cultural quicksand. Kara Walker reminds us that black women's bodies are not reducible to these narratives, for our bodies experience pain, and pleasure, and possibility. We are people with history, but also agency.

I hold in tension the body of the actual woman that Walker used to shape the Sphinx with my own impression of the slightly protruding vulva that punctuates the back of the sculpture. The pictures made it seem both grotesque and gratuitous. But seeing it in person, it felt like just a vulva, a body part that every female-bodied person has. For a black woman's vulva to feel like just a vulva, when it can never in the context of American imperialism be only that, shows that this piece has something for all who encounter it. The Sugar Sphinx's vulva looked regular not mythical, conjuring and simultaneously refusing a reading of the figure as Saartjie Bartmann. Her body had some of the makings of a classic nude sculpture, granted to a body type never considered to be either classy or respectable.

Still I was startled to see a black woman and her three stair-stepped sons posing for pictures near the Sphinx's vulva. While I appreciated their mom bringing them to the exhibit, it was apparent to me that none of us ever really knows how to encounter a black woman's body (even a sculpture of one): the labor both productive and reproductive that it has done, the unknown sentiments and dreams it contains, hinted at by the figa symbol in her left hand, the both/and of its impartations for fertility and the insistence of its "Fuck you," left unknown to us and to history.
(c) 2014 Brittney Cooper is a contributing writer at Salon, and teaches Women's and Gender Studies and Africana Studies at Rutgers. Follow her on Twitter at @professorcrunk.





The Dead Letter Office...






Heil Obama,

Dear propoganda ansager Kinsley,

Congratulations, you have just been awarded the "Vidkun Quisling Award!" Your name will now live throughout history with such past award winners as Marcus Junius Brutus, Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, George Stephanopoulos, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Prescott Bush, Sam Bush, Fredo Bush, Kate Bush, Kyle Busch, Anheuser Busch, Vidkun Quisling and last year's winner Volksjudge John (the enforcer) Roberts.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, your attacks on the first amendment and the journalists who use it, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Iran and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Rethuglican whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 07-05-2014. We salute you Herr Kinsley, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama






Real Business Leaders Want To Save Capitalism
By Robert Reich

A few weeks ago I was visited in my office by the chairman of one of the country's biggest high-tech firms who wanted to talk about the causes and consequences of widening inequality and the shrinking middle class, and what to do about it.

I asked him why he was concerned. Because the American middle class is the core of our customer base," he said. "If they can't afford our products in the years ahead, we're in deep trouble."

I'm hearing the same refrain from a growing number of business leaders.

They see an economic recovery that's bypassing most Americans. Median hourly and weekly pay dropped over the past year, adjusted for inflation.

Since the depths of the Great Recession in 2009, median real household income has fallen 4.4 percent, according to an analysis by Sentier Research.

These business leaders know the U.S. economy can't get out of first gear as long as wages are declining. And their own businesses can't succeed over the long term without a buoyant and growing middle class.

They also recognize a second danger.

Job frustrations are fueling a backlash against trade and immigration. Any hope for immigration reform is now dead in Congress, and further trade-opening agreements are similarly moribund. Yet the economy would be even worse if America secedes into isolationism.

Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, warned recently on "CBS This Morning" that income inequality is "destablilizing" the nation and is "responsible for the divisions in the country." He went on to say that "too much of the GDP over the last generation has gone to too few of the people."

Blankfein should know. He pulled in $23 million last year in salary and bonus, a 9.5 percent raise over the year before and his best payday since the Wall Street meltdown. This doesn't make his point any less valid.

Several of business leaders are suggesting raising the minimum wage and increasing taxes on the wealthy.

Bill Gross, Chairman of Pimco, the largest bond-trading firm in the world, said this week that America needs policies that bring labor and capital back into balance, including a higher minimum wage and higher taxes on the rich.

Gross has noted that developed economies function best when income inequality is minimal.

Several months ago Gross urged his wealthy investors, who benefit the most from a capital-gains tax rate substantially lower than the tax on ordinary income, to support higher taxes on capital gains. "The era of taxing 'capital' at lower rates than 'labor' should now end," he stated.

Similar proposals have come from billionaires Warren Buffett and Stanley Druckenmiller, founder of Duquesne Capital Management and one of the top performing hedge fund managers of the past three decades. Buffett has suggested the wealthy pay a minimum tax of 30 percent of their incomes.

The response from the denizens of the right has been predictable: If these gentlemen want to pay more taxes, there's nothing stopping them.

Which misses the point. These business leaders are arguing for changes in the rules of the game that would make the game fairer for everyone. They acknowledge it's now dangerously rigged in the favor of people like them.

They know the only way to save capitalism is to make it work for the majority rather than a smaller and smaller minority at the top.

In this respect they resemble the handful of business leaders in the Gilded Age who spearheaded the progressive reforms enacted in the first decade of the twentieth century, or those who joined with Franklin D. Roosevelt to create Social Security, a minimum wage, and the forty-hour workweek during the Depression.

Unfortunately, the voices of these forward-thinking business leaders are being drowned out by backward-lobbying groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that are organized to reflect the views of their lowest common denominator.

And by billionaires like Charles and David Koch, who harbor such deep-seated hatred for government they're blind to the real dangers capitalism now faces.

Those dangers are a sinking middle class lacking the purchasing power to keep the economy going, and an American public losing faith that the current system will deliver for them and their kids.

America's real business leaders understand unless or until the middle class regains its footing and its faith, capitalism remains vulnerable.
(c) 2014 Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, and his most recent book, "Beyond Outrage," is now out in paperback. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. His new film, "Inequality for All," will be out September 27.









The Warfare State Of Capital
By Frank Scott

"War is a bastard but the bitch that bore him is in heat again." ~~~ Berthold Brecht

The destruction of Iraq, which began under the conservatively emotional Bush regime, continues under the liberally placid Obama administration. There are differences in style when an intelligent landscaper replaces a slack jawed gardener but the plantation they serve differs only in the cosmetic facade it sells the public, not the diseased crop it produces. The present political opposition is led by people who make pinheads and maniacs seem thoughtful, but our current CEO still acts the sibilant bully talking tough and selling weapons to stop violence his cabal helps start in Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela, the Middle East and even the Middle West. It contrasts itself to its blood thirsty opposition as a peace-making arbiter among squabbling foreigners, but those squabbles often originate in our meddling foreign policy which looks like the rest of our economy; dangerously de-structuring.

While Obama rattles verbal sabers in the Far East by ordering China to behave better in the South China Sea - they act as though it's on their border - his witless secretary of state barks about threats in the Ukraine, many of them financed by the USA. These all mean arms sales from our multi billion dollar military-industrial complex - unmentioned by americans worried about personal gun ownership - for our Pacific puppets and NATO marionettes. That euro group was supposedly a bulwark against communism but it's still around long after communism's demise. Now it represents a bulwark against democracy and peace.

Meanwhile, the recovering (?) economy continues piling wealth into the coffers of a tiny minority who rent giant computers to stash their electronic loot because there's so much of it, while the working people politicians call a middle class sink into greater debt to pay rent or mortgage - if they have housing, medical bills - if they have health care, and education loans - if they have schooling.

This is accompanied by news about the recession having ended, again, and the economy bouncing back to new highs, again. As always only for the upper percentiles, with the middle sinking lower and poverty rising higher. But the place where god lives, unintelligent design prevails, and the big bang explodes all day every day - the market - is really booming for the 1% and its professional class servants. So there's really nothing to worry about since we'll soon have increased weapons spending to employ more robots and immigrants while killing more people. Wonderful.

We have moved from a policy of wars that send Americans to kill and die in other countries to one of financing of color-coded electoral "revolutions" and if necessary, civil wars with less need for invasions of anything but money, weapons and mechanized zombie warriors. Investments of dollars instead of lives are more profitable for warfare capital, especially as more American consumers threaten to become citizens by demanding peace and democracy. People still die but they are almost all foreigners. The profits that come from those deaths increase while the body count losses at capital central decline. Nice. Great economy. Sure.

The increasing bloodshed in the middle east, which may have its maps redrawn by Arabs who live there instead of Europeans who don't, may fit Israeli plans to break up the arab - Muslim world in as idiotic a way as american arming of ideological fanatics to fight communism has come back to haunt capital. Instead of a few arab nations led by supporters of global capital's new Zion there may be several ruled by those who will not tolerate a european apartheid state in their midst. The safety and future of the middle east is also the safety and future of the rest of the world, and if the warfare profit state rules much longer, our world may plunge into a bloody collapse of nature in all its substance.

The Ukraine, Detroit, fracking, gmos, guns, abortions, Palestine, Israel, homeless people, sheltered pets and everything else that make up usually misunderstood reality are part of the private profit and public loss system that always means inequality. That word has recently been rediscovered because it has become so blatantly obvious that even academics have noticed.

Bulletin: profit on one side demands loss on the other and that makes inequality a component part of the system. Who knew?

Private minority control of a market where some always do well at the expense of most others is nothing new. It's just that the system's present crisis is more noticeable as the losses are being suffered by greater numbers of people while the fantastic profits increase for a much smaller group.

Liberals and conservatives are two sides of the political coin of this realm. While Americans are reduced to choosing from these lesser evils and calling it democracy, indigenous people the world over are rising to do battle with capitalism. Inspiring some real democracy in South America, they clearly see it as not only their enemy but also the enemy of the planet, or Mother Earth, as they unashamedly address our multi-cultural uni-racial home.

Whether ecological problems are seen a short-term environmental menace or a long-term climate disaster, they are the result of reducing earth and its people to private profit producing commodities that must be balanced by humanity's loss. This demented economics has become a form of justifiable genocide, a war conducted on humanity itself. Minority rulers cannot help but care for anything but increasing private wealth in a system becoming more depraved with each creation of an individual with a billion dollars in a world where a billion individuals live in poverty. The warfare state must be transformed into a democratic state of peace, within and without its borders. If that seems too difficult for rich North Americans to achieve, maybe we should ask poor South Americans for advice.
(c) 2014 Frank Scott writes political commentary and satire which appears online at the blog Legalienate.




The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Mike Lester ~~~










To End On A Happy Note...





Have You Seen This...





Parting Shots...




Resigning House Leader Cantor Reflects On All The Accomplishments He Thwarted

WASHINGTON-Looking back on his 13-year tenure in the House of Representatives with reverence, resigning House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) reflected on the long list of accomplishments he had thwarted during his time in office, sources confirmed Thursday.

"From obstructing a jobs bill to put Americans back to work in 2011, to derailing gun control measures any time they reached my desk, I feel blessed to have had such an incredible run of preventing productive policies, and even a few pieces of landmark legislation, from ever passing," said Cantor, explaining that as a young man, he "never would have dreamed" that some day he would be in a position to hinder the entire American lawmaking process and completely neuter dozens of bills.

"Of course, I'm disappointed because I thought I had many more years of impeding accomplishments ahead of me, and I'll be the first to admit that I never quite managed to stall environmental policies as much as I would have liked. But at the end of the day, I'm very proud of how I helped Congress accomplish so little during my time in office." Cantor added that he took solace that his legacy of hampering federal policy was secure, and trusted that "many, many more" in his party would be inspired to follow in his footsteps.
(c) 2014 The Onion




Email:uncle-ernie@issuesandalibis.org


The Gross National Debt




Iraq Deaths Estimator


The Animal Rescue Site















View my page on indieProducer.net










Issues & Alibis Vol 14 # 25 (c) 06/27/2014


Issues & Alibis is published in America every Friday. We are not affiliated with, nor do we accept funds from any political party. We are a non-profit group that is dedicated to the restoration of the American Republic. All views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily the views of Issues & Alibis.Org.

In regards to copying anything from this site remember that everything here is copyrighted. Issues & Alibis has been given permission to publish everything on this site. When this isn't possible we rely on the "Fair Use" copyright law provisions. If you copy anything from this site to reprint make sure that you do too. We ask that you get our permission to reprint anything from this site and that you provide a link back to us. Here is the "Fair Use" provision.

"Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors."